Tuesday, 22 November 2011


This is not an expert's coverage of the NH7 Bacardi Weekender at Pune (from 18 to 20 Nov 11). That I am sure Arjun S Ravi would have done in NH7 and Indiecision and some of his coverage was live too. Nor are the photographs in the article even one tenth of the professional excellence, clarity and story-telling quality of Kunal Kakodkar's. This is an ordinary music lover's response at being amongst the music loving crowd during the music fest in Nov 11.

NH7 Bacardi Weekender this year was simply great in its organisation, crowd response, and the gigs that participated. One can listen to the music and the songs on You Tube and one's best hi-tech music system. But, there is nothing like the Live Experience. It is electric. It transports you into another world of excitement, love, ecstasy and happiness.

Papone and the East India Company at the Dewarist Stage

This year was probably the best assembly of gigs in an Indian music fest. There were five stages in all at the same Laxmi Lawns: The Dewarist, The Other Stage, Pepsi Dub Station, Eristoff Wolves Den, and Bacardi Black Rock Arena. The organisers need to be congratulated for having put up the stages, and the programme so meticulously. Arjun told me that most of it was done by his friend Dhruv and his team.

A view of the on-site admin office - Arjun and friends operated from here

Whilst the stages buzzed with music and crowd frenzy the organisers "quietly" (???) went ahead with their job
In addition to the music gigs, what makes an even like this special are organising and ensuring participation by the crowds; for example, the flea market selling anything from memorabilia to T shirts, hair dos, caps, hats, trinkets.

A happy visitor at the Flea (not free) market
Then there are food and drinks stalls and...hold your breath, a Tattoo Pavilion.

One of the many watering holes. The pictures collage at the rear wall is by Kunal Kakodkar and all the pics were lit at night
Even though the crowds were huge (when Imogen Heaps had the stage about 700 people had to be sent back due to no place available for the crowds to even stand), these were managed very well. At the parking lot, there was complete order. One of the newspapers brought out at the end of the fest that the policemen on duty had nothing to do since the crowds were so well behaved. They were in there to have a good time and they were genuine music afficiondos. Have a look at the total orderliness even at the entrance despite the 'bouncers' frisking everyone for drugs etc:
Entrance to the music fest
We enjoyed the music, the ambience, the young foot-tapping crowds with their lovely, colourful hair dos and head gear. To our surprise we found that Anna Hazare is the rage with the youngsters and Gandhi caps were the most preferred headgear:

An Anna Hazare Designer cap

This group of girls were always in these hats
A nice blue hair-do
Some more colours
As you entered the fest arena they gave you a Guide Book to the facilities there and a Pocket Guide. Both were very beautifully done and provided complete information about the stages, the programme, the artistes, flea markets, food stalls, watering holes etc. Here is Lyn holding one of these Guide Books:

A Gibson stall in the fest
Let me now give you a glimpse of  the Food stalls and the Tattoo shops in the Tattoo Republic

The armed forces bands play the Tattoo!

The atmosphere at the food-stalls
 Before I go on to the music, the real reason for the fest, let me give you glimpses of riot of paints and colours:



Lyn trying to merge with the paintings.
 As far as Music was concerned, there was so much to choose from. On the first day, Friday, the 18th Nov, there were three live stages: Eristoff Wolves Den, Pepsi Dub Station, and Eristoff Club Invasion. The gigs that played included Sky Rabbit (formerly Medusa), Midival Punditz, Ash Boy, Dualist Inquiry, Basement Jaxx, Jatin Puri, and DJ Swaggamuffin. Here is a pic of Sky Rabbit in action:

Sky Rabbit (formerly Medusa)
The second day was a delectable treat of music: On the Dewarists stage there were, amongst others Imogen Heap and Raghu Dixit. How did it go? Well, even though the crowds filled the lawns fully, they were not really on the grounds; most often than not they were airborne. Bacardi Black stage had, amongst others, Tough on Tobacco, Pentagram, and Blackstratblues. Eristoff Wolves Den stage had Reggae Rajahs.

The third day was sadly the last day. There were gigs like Scribe, King Creosote, Swarathma, Papon & the East India Company, Bhayanak Maut and Indian Ocean. In the end, another treat awaited the fans in the shape of Weekender All Stars on Bacardi Together stage.
See how neatly the organisers had worked out everything:

A Directions Map from the Guide Book

And an 'Out of Toon' Guide to the fest

And from these 'before' pictures, lets go to the pics of crowd frenzy, the vibrations, the rhythemic jumps, screams of joy and charged up atmosphere:


When the last of the gigs, Indian Ocean played there was not an inch of ground left to stand on. Well, no one was standing anyway. People were air borne most of the time. Lyn and I found a good vantage point to watch Indian Ocean live. Halfway through a girl tapped me from behind and said with becoming pleading, "Sir, you are tall you can watch from anywhere, can I come in front?" What would you have done? I did the same. She stood next to Lyn and watched and I felt like a boy scout having done my good deed for the day.

Lyn not allowing her place near the stage to be taken by anyone
There was a treat waiting for Lyn and I at the end of Indian Oceans performance. We could meet the versatile Rahul Ram of Indian Ocean and even take pics with him; all this courtesy Arjun:

Lyn and me with Rahul Ram of Indian Ocean
For Lyn and me another great and warm feeling was to be with Arjun; he lives music, breathes music. His friends say about him that other than music nothing registers in his mind.

Arjun looking satisfied with the response to NH7 Weekender and Lyn looking happy that Arjun is satisfied

The last item was the All Gigs Together and....like one often did with a long novel just before the ending, you didn't want it to end.

The last item: Weekender All Stars - jampacked
On return, we were on the Expressway back to Mumbai and the only thought in our mind was: The real expressway (to heaven) was in Laxmi Lawns, Magarpatta City, Pune, from 18 to 20 Nov.

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